We may have hacked Sony back in the day, but we are still a social justice movement, from economic inequality to police brutality. Hacktivism is still the future
Here in prison, I am asked a lot about hacking and especially about Anonymous, because of course there is interest in new technologies like Bitcoin for money or darknets for fraud. After all, convicts – like hackers – develop their own codes and ethics, and they are constantly finding ways to scam and exploit cracks in the system.
The anti-government message of Anonymous rings true among prisoners who have been railroaded, condemned and warehoused. So when they hear about hacked government websites and cops getting doxed, my fellow inmates often tell me things like, “It’s good to see people finally doing something about it.” That rejection of established, reformist avenues for achieving social change is why Anonymous continues as a force to be reckoned with, made all the more obvious by the presence of Guy Fawkes masks at the protests in Ferguson, Missouri – and beyond.
Hackers are a controversial, chaotic and commonly misunderstood bunch. Many of us have been arrested, from Mercedes Haefer and Andrew Auernheimer to Mustafa Al-Bassam and more, and few outside observers get that Anonymous is not a monolithic entity but a wide spectrum of backgrounds, politics and tactics. The journalist Barrett Brown gets it, but he continues to await his sentencing for merely linking to hacked material. And so I’ve been sharing a new book with my fellow inmates by the anthropologist and author Gabriella Coleman called Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous.